India trip in Dec-Jan with a 3 year old

Old Sep 18th, 2010, 04:41 AM
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India trip in Dec-Jan with a 3 year old

Hi,

We've bought our plane tickets to go to India in December. Since we'll be there for only around 3 weeks, we are tentatively planning to visit the following places:

12/17 NYC->Zurich (arriving 08:00 on the 18th)
12/18 Zurich
12/19 Zurich – Delhi (departs 12:45 PM gets in 00:45 AM on 12/20)

12/20 Delhi
12/21 Delhi
12/22 Agra (daytrip, train/car) see Taj, Fort, Fatehpur Sikri
12/23 To Jammu
12/24 Jammu
12/25 Jammu
12/26 Jammu
12/27 To Jaipur (Jammu-Delhi-Jaipur)
12/28 Jaipur
12/29 Jaipur
12/30 To Udaipur
12/31 Udaipur
01/01 Udaipur
01/02 Udaipur
01/03 To Goa (Udaipur-Mumbai-Goa)
01/04 Goa
01/05 Goa
01/06 To Bombay
01/07 Bombay
01/08 To NYC (BOM-Zurich-NYC) flight departs on the 7th past midnight 01:20

I have family in Jammu and a get together is planned so that part of the trip is pretty much fixed. Also, we just made a (refundable) hotel booking for the 3 nights in Delhi. Rest is tentative so please provide your comments/suggestions!

Are we trying to do too much with a 3 year old?
Is a day trip from Delhi to Agra (and back) feasible?
Wondering what the best mode of transportation is within Rajasthan and if we'll need a car/driver within Jaipur or Udaipur or for any side (day) trips.
Is Jodhpur/Jaisalmer worth visiting or will we be cramming in too much...

All ideas welcome.

Thanks,
d
z_n_d is offline  
Old Sep 18th, 2010, 06:56 AM
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my only comment is about agra....can you add one day to that....otherwise you will not see all that you wish to..

i would also add that your time in delhi lacks about one day also...
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Old Sep 18th, 2010, 07:10 AM
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First of all, how portable is your three-year-old? When my son was that age, he was very adaptable to new settings, ate just about anything he was offered, and would sleep anywhere. He still took a nap in the afternoon. How will your child adapt to all the changes that will occur in a short period of time, especially changes in sleep, beds, etc.? And how do you propose to haul the equipment you'll need -- car seat, stroller? I'm not trying to discourage you, just to ask those questions.

Will your hotels have elevators? You don't want to have to climb up several flights of stairs with a crabby kid and all the assorted gear a child that age requires.

There's a train that goes from Delhi to Agra, a fast train, but I don't know it's schedule. It's a tough drive, I've been told, so better to take the train. I would plan to spend the night in Agra, if not two nights. The Taj itself is not something that can be done in a couple of hours. Give yourself half a day for the Taj and perhaps another half day for the Fort. Fatehpur Sikri is a rough drive west and deserves a few hours at least.

How are you going to get to Jammu - fly? And then backtrack and fly to Jaipur?

Jaipur to Udaipur is a long drive. We spent the night on the road from U. to J. at Shapurah Bagh. It is possible to fly from J. to U.

We loved the fort in Jodhpur and the little town of Ossian. You can also fly to Jodhpur from Delhi. The drive from Jodhpur to Udaipur is quite lovely as one gets close to U. through the Aravelli Hills with the Ranakpur Temple and the Kumbhelgarh Fort.
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Old Sep 18th, 2010, 11:16 AM
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Agree with both rhkkmk and Indianapearl...you need two days in Agra. The fort is wonderful. And if you can get to the Taj from your hotel FIRST THING in the morning, you will beat the crowds coming off the train from New Delhi. It makes a big difference to experience its beauty when you are one of the few there, even if just for a half hour or so.

See Indiamike forum. There are some great threads on traveling with children. Especially read the ones by Dhans, if only to get a sense of the adjustments parents have to make .

"Less is more"- you are smart to limit the itinerary, and not, as you say, "cram in too much" You are young, and you can return if you love it this time (which you will).
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Old Sep 18th, 2010, 04:31 PM
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Have some pediatric Benadryl (or something similar) in case the 3 year old gets motion sickness from the bumpy roads. Keep his hands clean if he's prone to putting fingers in his mouth. Bring food items from home that are familiar to him. Be flexible so you can be back at your hotel for an afternoon nap for him. And finally, bring a variety of little toys to keep him occupied and a favorite blanket or comfort items.

Little kids usually do fine, but having a stash of things from home helps a lot too. When walking, you may need to carry him if the streets or sidewalks are too full of people or there's potholes or animal poo in the way.

Indians love little kids and pinching their cheeks is common (just so you're not surprised).
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Old Sep 18th, 2010, 07:42 PM
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts.

Perhaps we can just take the early morning fast train from Delhi to Agra, see the Taj and skip Fort/Fatehpur Sikri.

Yes, we'll be flying from Delhi to Jammu and then back from Jammu to Rajasthan. What is the best way to purchase domestic air tickets within India?
Is it practical to take flights even within Rajasthan instead of taking trains/driving?

Our little one is pretty portable. She did really well on a 2 week trip to Europe this past summer. The food will be tricky as she's picky but we plan on taking familiar stuff (cheerios, teddies etc) along
As we live in NYC, we are used to the daily haul grind..

How feasible is it to use a car seat, given that many cars may not even have seatbelts, and then local travel involves auto rickshaws too? We were thinking about taking just a stroller.

Thanks again for your help.

d
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 06:19 AM
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You can book your domestic flights on travelocity.co.in. We used Kingfisher and Jet Airways - excellent airlines, by the way.

Our driver's car was a Toyota Innova SUV - plenty of seat belts all around. Auto rickshaws, of course, are a life threatening proposition, but after you see a family of five sandwiched onto a motorbike, the auto rickshaw will look like a chariot! Do you plan to hire a driver for any portion of your trip or just take taxis? India is not like NYC, but then you probably know this . . .
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 06:30 AM
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Auto rickshaws (aka 3-wheelers) are not safe. In the rat race of everything competing on the roads, bicycle and auto rickshaws are near the bottom of the food chain. If you have the money then take a car/taxi.

It's still common practice to prop little kids on adult's laps and Indians don't bother with car seats. Strollers will be a challenge out on the sidewalks, if not totally impossible. A backpack child carrier may be better.

The early morning train from Delhi to Agra is the Shatabdi Express. Try to have a hotel not too far from the train station for an early am departure. Delhi is huge and congested. You need think of location and logistics.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 06:41 AM
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you can easily book flights from home using the internet...kingfisher, jet lite, and jet airways are preferable....
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Old Sep 21st, 2010, 07:46 PM
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Thanks, finalizing the dates to book the flights.

d
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Old Sep 21st, 2010, 09:43 PM
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Some thoughts and suggestions:

1. I assume you have your own reasons for wanting to take Swiss Air via a change in Zurich. There are non-stop flights to/from Delhi and Mumbai from Newark on United and Continental (well until they are the same airline at least). There are also non-stops on Air India to Mumbai and Delhi from New York, which personally I would not take, but a non-stop is a better option than a layover, IMO, so you may want to consider it.

2. If you have family in India, I am assuming that either yourself or your spouse is of Indian origin. If one of you still has an Indian passport, or are an NRI/ PIO/OCI (or can get such status before your trip), you will get much better prices on airfares, hotels and trains. You also would either not need a visa to visit or would be entitled to a different visa to enter India and can use the PIO entry lines at Immigration (where lines are shorter). If you can’t get any status, then to the extent possible, see if family members in India can make bookings for you and possibly negotiate some better rates for hotels. In my experience, having a local person make these kind of arrangements often works out better.

3. I personally would cut out Mumbai, esp. with a child, and concentrate on other smaller areas, or spend more time in Goa or with the family. Mumbai does not offer a whole lot to the tourist, and is very crowded with quite intense traffic. The beaches, food, sights, and laid-back atmosphere of Goa are to be far preferred, IMO. (Note that it is very high season there in Dec/Jan, so book hotels as soon as you can.)

4. I don’t see the sense in interrupting the Delhi-Agra-Rajasthan portion of this trip to go to Jammu. I would save Agra and Rajasthan for the end, and do the trip this way:
Delhi – until Dec 23
Jammu
Jammu fly to Delhi (fly* or train to Agra)
Agra drive to Jaipur stopping at Fatephur Sikri
Jaipur fly to Udaipur
Udaipur fly to Goa (via Mumbai)
Goa fly home (via a change in Mumbai**)

*You arrive into Delhi from Jammu on Jet Airways at 3:30 pm. Kingfisher has a flight to Agra at 5:15 pm. You could easily make this connection, IMO, but will obviously require an overnight in Agra, which is preferred IMO. One issue in December in Delhi is fog in the morning and early evening, so it is possible that one or more of these flights may be delayed; so it may be a toss-up as to whether taking the train to Agra on the evening you arrive back into Delhi is a better idea. It may be. There are a few evening fast trains from Nizamuddin station, about an hour from the airport, which would work.

**There is a Jet Airways flight from Goa to Mumbai which departs at 6:45 pm and arrives into Mumbai at 7:45 pm. This would give you ample time to get over to the international airport for your flight home at 1:20 am. You will even be able to stop for dinner at one of the hotels near the international airport.

5. I join the chorus in saying that Agra should not be done as a day trip. First of all with a 3 year old, IMO it’s too much travelling. Even if you take the train, you are looking at 5 hours or so just on trains. Plus other intra-Agra travel, lugging all the baby stuff with you. I would not recommend it to two adults, and with a child I think you will be far more slowed down. (You have to stop regularly for meals where adults could just skip a meal if necessary.) The baby may also be suffering from jet lag at that point, and putting her on a train or in a car for longish journeys may affect this even more, as she will sleep and then could be up all night. But the main drawback to me is that you won’t get to see the Taj at sunrise, when IMO it is at its most beautiful, esp. in winter. You may be able to arrange to see it at sunset, when it is also quite lovely, but also far more crowded. You can drive to and from Agra, it’s about 4 hours each way on good roads; however I would not do anything of this drive in darkness, and in December in India you have short days and therefore the driving does not seem feasible to me.

6. You can fly between Jaipur and Udaipur, it’s an early evening flight on Kingfisher and takes less than an hour. That IMO would be your best choice. For adults only, driving would be an option (6 hours or so), but with a child I am not sure if that would be as an attractive option. Only you would know. The countryside is very lovely, and you could stop at Kumbulgarh fort and Ranakpur Jain temples on the way. (This is a long day trip.) But bear in mind that there is a far bit of swerving, honking, and life-passing-before-your eyes moments on India roads, so whether you want to have a child along on that journey is up to you. Also just sitting in a car for 5-7 hours may be too much for a 3 year old.

7. I assume you are aware of the recent security issues in Jammu and are OK with travelling there.

8. I don’t think you will find car seats in any hire cars and you cannot find them in taxis, so IMO you may want to bring your own or perhaps purchase one in Delhi when you arrive and then donate it to a charity (or a family member) when you depart. I don’t know that adult seat belts are appropriate for a 3-year old, esp. as I don’t know the size and weight of your child. I don’t think I would be in love with the idea of having my three year old in my lap in a taxi or day hire car in Delhi, let alone the “highways” of India. (And I speak as a person who spent plenty of time in the 1960’s on my mother’s lap. But we got smarter. We also did not use seatbelts.) There are three Mothercare shops in Delhi which should have car seats, see http://store.mothercare.com/international/asia/india. Maternity shops in other upscale malls in India should have them as well. I agree that a backpack baby carrier will probably be far easier than a stroller, as sidewalks don’t exist for the most part in India, and those that do tend to be uneven and broken. At large sites like Fatephur Sikri or the Jaipur fort, a stroller may be useful if the baby gets tired, but not sure it is worth hauling around.

9. I used to live in Zurich and can offer some suggestions for things to do there on a one night layover. It’s really lovely at Christmas, as the shops are streets are decorated. You will need good heavy winter clothing, as it is quite cold in December. There is also the marvelous Cornelli circus which puts up its tent in December for shows, that might be fun with a child, see http://www.circus-conelli.ch German only but maybe try Babel Fish to translate it. The circus is in German, but believe me you do not need to understand the language to enjoy the circus.
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Old Sep 25th, 2010, 02:59 PM
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Thanks Cicerone.
Yes, I grew up in India but I left almost two decades ago. The overnight in Zurich was just to break up the long trip because of the little one. Any suggestions about spending the 1 day are welcome.

I hadn't thought of the PIO/ideas re: someone locally purchasing tickets, booking hotels etc so that is good input.
Based on your input and looking more into Bombay, we've decided to cut out the overnight there. We'll book a flight from Goa to Bombay the evening we depart.
The Jammu trip is pretty much set because of personal engagements so we'll just have to plan around that.
It's funny most (except one) of the flights you've recommended are what I was considering too, so seals the deal for those.
The link to the store that sells car seats will help, we just might pick one up.

Cheers,
d
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Old Sep 26th, 2010, 10:12 PM
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Yes, if you still hold an Indian passport, I would look into getting some sort of NRI/PIO status (assuming there are no tax consequences in India, which I believe is the case). Otherwise, try to get relatives to get you good hotel rates; even if you don't quality for the NRI rate, they should be able to negotiate down from the rates for foreigners. I believe you need an NRI/PIO for plane tickets at the discounted price, so they proably can't get you discounts on that.

For a long list of things to see in Zurich, look for the posts “One Day in Zurich” at http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...n-zurich-2.cfm and “2 Days in Zurich” at http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...n-zurich-1.cfm. For restaurant suggestions see “Dining in Zurich” at http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...uggestions.cfm. For souvenir shopping see “Quick Souvenir Spots for Zurich” at http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...for-zurich.cfm.

You might also try http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...o-in-march.cfm but these suggestions are for longer trips than you have time for most likely.

Otherwise, my general suggestions would be as follows:

(i) walk the old town streets, esp. in the early evening to see all the Christmas decorations. The Banhofstrasse, the main street leading from the train station to the lake, is usually hung with lights the entire way and makes for a nice stroll in the early evening. There are often carollers at points here, esp. in front of the Globus Dept store. Gluwein and other foods are often being sold in the street.

(ii) there is usually a Christmas market inside the huge hall at the main train station, and sometimes smaller ones outdoors at various plazas in the old town. They are not as good as the ones in Germany, IMO, but worth a stroll.

(iii) There is usually a temporary outdoor ice skating rink behind the main train station during December, check and see. It’s open day and night. There is also a large outdoor skating rink up the hill at the Dolder Grand hotel (where you may be able to see curling).

(iv) go to the circus or take in Christmas concerts which are usually going on in the evening at various churches in town, see something like http://www.zuerich.com. You can also search for concerts and other events, also look at www.whatsonwhen.com for listings.

(v) during the day, take the little red train to Utlieberg, the “mountain” in Zurich where after a short walk from the train to the viewing areas, you should be able to get some very good Alp views (although often in December skies are so clear that you can see the Alps almost from the train station, and certainly from the lake or the Lindenhof). You can have a causal or more upscale meal at the hotel on the top of the Utlieberg.

(vi) there is quite a good zoo a short tram ride up the hill from the main train station, and this may also be a good diversion for a child assuming it is not too cold (most of the zoo is outdoors except for reptiles and monkeys) . You could go from there to the nearby skating rink at the Dolder Grand, or to the hotel itself and then take the little incline railway back from the hotel to the city.

(vii) have hot chocolate, preferably at Cafe Schober/Cafe Felix at Napfgasse 4 in the Neiderdorf area of the old town, which serves probably the world’s best hot chocolate (bring money); although any outlet of Springli will certainly be good too.

(vii) have fondue, as it is the perfect season for it. Le Delazy is my favourite place for fondue, but you can find it in many other places as well.

Zurich is fairly expensive for hotels, so if you have Marriott or Starwood points, I would look into using them. Otherwise, if you have a budget in mind, I can suggest some hotels.

Enjoy Zurich, it’s a great little city.
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Old Oct 11th, 2010, 07:15 PM
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Cicerone - still finalizing bits of the India trip so will get to Zurich shortly. Thanks however.

Does anyone have suggestions on hotels in Goa? Currently we are holding reservations at both Leela Kempinski and Park Hyatt in South Goa. Since reviews we've read are mixed about both, not sure about where to stay. Sounds like most of these hotels in Goa are tired with average service and food, at high-end prices.

We'd ideally like to end our vacation in Goa relaxing on the beach/poolside, as much as possible with a high-maintenance 3 year old so all suggestions are welcome.

Cheers,
d
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Old Oct 12th, 2010, 04:25 AM
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I have not seen the Leela in a while, but am surprised if you have seen comments that it is worn down. I don’t think that is the case, but perhaps I have missed something. It is on a very pretty beach. I think you might be right that the Park Hyatt is a little worn, but for 3 days I think would be perfectly livable.

Otherwise, I would say to take a look at the Goa Marriott. The hotel has just had a redo, and is very nice. (Be sure to get a redone room, the public areas are done and they are working on the rooms, but at this point I think the majority of them are done.) The hotel is not on the beach, but is on the river, which I find quite enjoyable as you can watch the boats go by as you sit at the pool. It also has a nice viewing position for sunset. You also aren’t bothered by hawkers like you would be on the beaches. You can walk to and along the beach, which starts at the end of the hotel. (This is admittedly not the prettiest beach Goa has to offer.) Good food and good service. It has a nice location at the edge of town, and offers easy access to the very charming old town areas and the very interesting UNESCO church area. Consider a walking tour with Heta Pandit of the Heritage Network (tel. 98-2212-8022; www.heritagenetworkindia.com) she and other members of her group do interesting, inexpensive walking tours of old Goa.

The Grand Hyatt is about to open, and perhaps will be open by the time of your trip. It will be quite upscale. It is in north Goa in Bambolin. It has what appears to be a little bit of a walk downhill to the beach, most of the hotel area is on a hill overlooking the river. (I have not been down to this beach.) The drawback may be that it is a bit isolated in terms of location, but if you don’t want to leave the hotel too much, that probably does not matter.

You might also look at the Zuri White Sands, I have not seen it in some time myself, but it has a nice beach location and seemed to be in good shape when I last saw it. It was a Radisson when I last saw it, but is now independently operated. The Taj Exotica or other Taj properties may also work.

I don’t know your budget, but you might look at the Nilaya Hermitage and see if it works for you. It is quite expensive. I have not stayed myself so can’t comment on rooms or service. See http://www.nilaya.com/.

Also operated by the same group, but on the less-expensive side is Fort Tiracol. See http://www.forttiracol.com/ I have to say this one intrigues me, although I have not seen it myself. I am not sure it is entirely appropriate for children, and it is in a rather isolated location. I would not go there in the very hot season, as the rooms do not have air con as far as I know. December will be on the warm side, but not as hot as other months.
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